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New Philosophy Seminar at Sofia University

CAS 17/05/2008

Upcoming talks:

11th of July (Friday), Hall 41, 17:00 hrs, Rectorate, Sofia University Cognition,

Order and Information: How cognition emerges in life and how it leaves life behind

Orlin Vakarelov
Department of Philosophy and Cognitive Science Program
University of Arizona
Tucson, Arizona


I have two goals: (1) to examine how the phenomenon of cognition, in its most general form, can emerge in a universe similar to ours, and (2) to characterize what natural systems in this universe can be described as cognitive. In the process I address a debate about the connection of the phenomenon of cognition and life. Maturana and Valera claim that cognition is coextensive with life because every autopoietic system is both living and cognitive. This is taken to fly in the face of more traditional functionalist approaches to cognition. Following a proto-theory proposed by Stuart Kauffman about the origin and propagation of order in a universe, I propose that cognition must emerge with the type of autonomous system that Maturana and Valera describe, but it is not coextensive with them, particularly their metabolic nature. Rather, cognition solves a more specific problem that such systems begin to face: autonomous systems are informationally deprived, so they need to overcome this informational limitation by increasing the complexity of the organization of their control mechanisms. I use this idea to categorize the notion of cognition. Because cognition is a mechanism that is informational in nature, it is possible, in some cases, to be described in functional terms. The correct thesis to holds about the connection between cognition and life is that: cognition must necessarily emerge within living systems, but it may leave life behind by being decoupled from the metabolic principles of life. Indeed, artificial cognition is possible because there exit sufficiently smart living cognition to construct complex artificial organized systems that solve the same informational control problems.


Previous talks:

After a long break the Contemporary Philosophy Seminar comes back and with a nice set of talks.

On 29th of May, Thursday, from 11,00 AM Peter Van Inwagen would give a talk

Impotence and Collateral Damage: One Charge in Van Fraassen's Indictment of Analytical Metaphysics

in Hall 1 of the Rectorate of Sofia University and a few hours later Nenad Miscevic would respond (Hall 41, 15,00 hrs, Rectorate, Sofia University).

Peter van Inwagen is John Cardinal O'Hara Professor of Philosophy at the University of Notre Dame. He previously taught at Syracuse University for many years and earned his PhD from the University of Rochester under the direction of Richard Taylor and Keith Lehrer. He is one of the leading figures in contemporary metaphysics, philosophy of religion, and philosophy of action. It is largely due to his work (An Essay on Free Will: Oxford University Press, 1983) that incompatibilism (libertarianism) about free will is once again respectable in mainstream analytical philosophy.

After two months break the Contemporary Philosophy Seminar continues with the Christmass Philosophy Debate between Dr. Nina Atanasova (from BAS) and Assoc. Prof. Lilia Gurova (from NBU and BAS).

The topic of the debate is SCIENCE AND THE LAWS OF NATURE

The seminar would take place as usual in Hall 41 of the Rectorate of Sofia University, starting from 19,00 hrs. The official poster with the abstract could be downloaded from http://philosophy.sofiafilm.com/index.html or here as PDF.

The format of the semianr would be different for the specific purposes of the debate. Thus both ladies would have 20 minutes each for introduction of their main theses and arguments followed by a sequence of 3 x 5 minutes response-times each.

Marina Bakalova from IPHR, BAS and CEU, Budapest, would give a talk on "Quick Switching Thought Experiment"

Additional Information in PDF here

30 March, Prof. Michail Bushev would talk on Kurt Godel and Rossen Ljutckanov has kindly agreed to comment.

13 April - "Epistemic Justification", Presented by Prof. Angel Stefanov Philosophy of Science Dept. at IPR, BAS, Sofia University, Auditorium 41 19:00hrs

02 March - "Michael Friedman's Epistemic Problems", Boris Grazdanoff, PhD, History of Science Department, BAS.

The Philosophy of Science Department, IPR, BAS
and the Philosophy Department of Sofia University

New philosophy seminar is launching on the 2nd of March in Sofia. The seminar would present in English a broad spectrum of topics in philosophy, ranging from epistemology, philosophy of science, metaphysics, ontology and history of philosophy to logic, philosophy of math, ethics and aesthetics.

The main goal of the organizers is to help to form a philosophical community in Sofia and Bulgaria that is united by the common framework of doing philosophy in English.

Somewhat more detailed information is available through the official web site of the seminar http://philosophy.sofiafilm.com and all updates would be posted there as well.

Posters for the events would make announcements in Sofia Uni, NBU, The Institute for Philosophical research and perhaps other places.

The selection of the topics is made by the organizers (Marina Bakalova, Vasko Vidinski and myself) lecturers are expected to come from various countries throughout the year to deliver talks.

The format of the seminar is the following :
1. up to 45 min talk
2. up to 10 min response by an opponent (optional but highly desirable)
3. 10 min break
4. up to 30 min discussion

For the latest updates and inevitable changes in the program, please visit the website.

The Seminar opens with lecture on:

"Michael Friedman's Epistemic Problems", Boris Grazdanoff, PhD, History of Science Department, BAS.


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